At the heart of the EFS mission is an on-site, community based model that assists child care centers by mentoring teachers and directors, focusing on the betterment of the whole child, pursuing national accreditation and forming strategic partnerships both within the child care centers and the surrounding community.
EFS holds four principles key to its mission:
The EFS program focuses on the needs of the whole child, emphasizing numeracy, literacy, social-emotional development and motor skills. As the formative years are critical to future achievement, a holistic child approach encourages teachers and directors to prepare students not just academically, but mentally, emotionally and socially, for success in kindergarten and future endeavors. Because of this emphasis, EFS evaluates the progress of centers, directors, and teachers, but does not recommend testing students individually during the pre-K years. Rather, EFS tracks the persistence of its benefits by using assessments that are obtained starting in kindergarten, where readiness results are more reliable and part of the regular academic routine. These tests have shown that EFS’ benefits to impoverished children persist in kindergarten and beyond.
Recognizing the critical influence of teachers in the daily lives of these young children, EFS shapes its program so that everything it does supports the development of excellent teachers. This integrated approach unites mentorship and training to achieve the highest possible outcomes for the teachers themselves and therefore for their centers and students. EFS Program Specialists establish mutually trusting relationships with teachers, mentoring them in developmentally appropriate teaching techniques in the classroom and with the children themselves. Formal training for teachers and directors focuses on various tenets of curriculum, positive social interactions, and health and safety, providing them also with materials, resources and up-to-date information for classroom excellence. These mentoring, training and enrichment activities are mutually reinforcing, allowing EFS to aim high despite the limited resources of most of our assisted partners.
When centers join the EFS Four Steps to Excellence program, they immediately begin the journey to national accreditation through the National Accreditation Commission (NAC) or the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Over its history, EFS has guided 40 centers to this gold standard, partnering with centers as they prove that, regardless of socio-economic circumstances, national recognition for excellence is attainable. The accrediting agencies independently evaluate the whole center, assessing the benefits to children in all aspects of their education and development. Four Steps To Excellence has been continually proven successful as assisted centers are recognized as high quality institutions worthy of accreditation, often only a few years after having been primarily “babysitting” environments.
EFS actively seeks to form strategic partnerships and collaborations that leverage the resources of the whole community on behalf of the children. These partnerships begin at the center level, as EFS builds relationships with teachers and directors within our assisted centers. EFS also partners with parents, guardians and families through evening workshops and family events. On a broader scale, EFS works with outside agencies that offer specialized skills and enrichment opportunities to the centers, directors, teachers and children we serve. Today, these partners include the Dallas Zoo, the Dallas Arboretum, the Museum of Nature and Science, The Frontiers of Flight Museum, The Amon Carter Museum and the C.R. Smith Museum.
To learn more, contact Educational First Steps online or call 214-824-7940 in Dallas or 817-535-0044 in Tarrant County.